Feb 16, 2022
Marsden High School in Sydney’s West Ryde neighborhood was grappling with changing demographics and low retention rates. Its neighborhood’s population was becoming increasingly economically disadvantaged as the school was growing more and more diverse. Marsden’s 630 students represented 35 cultural backgrounds, and more than two-thirds of students came from non-English-speaking backgrounds. In addition, only 65% of students were graduating.
Three Johnson & Johnson local operating companies – Janssen Australia, DePuy Synthes, and MENTOR – responded to the need by teaming with the local nonprofit organization, 2realise, and Macquarie University to initiate the BTE program there.
To improve students’ academic achievement, BTE Sydney hosted academic workshops on topics such as microbiology at Macquarie University, and offered after-school homework sessions and study skills workshops to help students prepare for upcoming exams. To help students explore careers and develop professional skills, BTE Sydney hosted the Industry Bites program, a series of field trips to local healthcare industry heavyweights, Janssen and Macquarie University Hospital. Students also visited the local Microsoft campus, an excursion most students enthusiastically rated “excellent.” BTE Sydney supplemented these exploration activities with a series of workshops on the importance of resilience. In addition, students were paired with employee volunteers for group mentoring, a feature of the program that students often identified as one of its highlights. Employee mentors hosted sessions on employability skills such as communication, goal setting, and team building. To support students’ transition to higher education, BTE Sydney hosted visits to a variety of local higher education institutions and assisted students with postsecondary education applications.
Of the 48 students who enrolled in BTE Sydney in 2013, 38 completed the three-year program (a 79% retention rate) and earned their Higher School Certificate. Their science grades increased by 22%. All the BTE students reported being aware of higher education opportunities, and 85% said BTE helped them feel good about the future. Not only were students more aware of potential careers, according to 2realise, but “students feel as though they now have the confidence and knowledge to pursue these opportunities due to the development of professional skills during the BTE program.” In addition to BTE’s effects on students, J&J employees reported that mentoring BTE students helped them develop soft skills that positively affected their day-to-day roles at J&J. In a telling sign of BTE’s impact, BTE Sydney partners decided to continue the program using local funds after the conclusion of the original three-year program. With a new community partner, Rise & Shine, BTE Sydney launched a new two-year student cohort in 2017 and 2019.
Want to learn more about BTE sites and their impact? Check out our alumni sites.